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  • New Helos At AUSA
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 5:35 PM on Oct 10, 2011

    New at AUSA -- a full line-up of proposed Sikorsky rotorcraft based on Sikorsky's X2 high-speed coaxial concept. First, the S-97 demonstrator, which the company still plans to fly in 2014 and that corresponds to the Army's advanced scout requirement.

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    Next, a UH-60 Blackhawk-sized aircraft, corresponding to the utility end of the Army's very long-term Joint Multirole Rotorcraft requirement:

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    And sharing the same rotors, transmission and power, an attack helicopter. Very impressive, although I wonder how many old-school big-wing AIM-9s will be around when this critter enters service.

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    Finally, a UAV -- with the X2 rotor system, but lacking the trademark pusher propeller, indicating an emphasis on lift and loiter rather than speed.

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    So far, there are three teams set up for the JMR program -- Sikorsky, a Boeing-only team and a Bell-Boeing tilt-rotor team. An engineer from the last-named says that the design will be very different in detail from the V-22.

    The snag with JMR is that full-scale development is not due to start until well into the 2020s -- which makes sense in view of the fact that the Army is still taking delivery of new, or good-as-new, AH-64 Block IIIs, UH/MH-60Ms and CH-47Fs. However, the US helicopter industry needs some R&D work, or the teams to develop a replacement will simply not be there in a dozen years' time.

    Also on show here is Bell's concept of an OH-58 Block II, a further evolution of the OH-58. The Army is already developing the OH-58F, with new sensors and avionics -- including the CSP sensor/designator package from the Gray Eagle UAV, located under the nose and replacing the Kiowa Warrior's mast-mounted sight. Seven EMD aircraft are being built, with the first to fly in late 2012. An artist's concept of the OH-58F appeared in a paper presented to Defense IQ's Close Air Support conference in London last month.

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    The Block II builds on that with major changes to reach the Army's goal of operations at 6,000 feet and 95F. A new engine -- either a Rolls-Royce offering or a Honeywell HTS900 -- delivers over 1,000 shp through a new transmission to new rotor blades.

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    Tags: ar99, ausa, X2

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